Duke Energy is increasingly isolated as it expands fracked natural gas and suppresses solar
Several recent advances in attitudes and actions to move the U.S. off fossil fuels are encouraging, even as the head of the United Nations last week demanded phase-out of coal, natural gas and oil while insisting there’s still time to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis.
All this makes it even less likely that Duke Energy can steam ahead indefinitely with its “expand-fossil fuels, stifle-renewables” business plan.
North Carolina must finally join the genuine efforts to prevent climate-and-social disaster instead of pretending we’re decarbonizing while Duke plans to build dozens of gas-burning power units* and to keep limiting solar-plus-storage for homes, businesses, nonprofits and at solar farms.
As reported by New York Times columnist David Wallace-Wells: In Texas, a “red state soaked with fossil fuel,” opponents “stopped very real efforts to shut down the renewable energy industry,” which continues to grow. Similar tides are turning in many other red and blue states.
“It is no longer clean energy that requires political interventions for survival. And increasingly it is fossil fuels flailing about for political lifelines to impede market forces,” he wrote last week.
Meanwhile, a new poll by Conservatives for Clean Energy found that large majorities of NC voters across the political spectrum want more renewable energy and less monopoly control by Duke Energy. Nearly 80 percent want more energy competition and consumer choice.
“We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open”
So said UN Secretary-General António Guterres last week, stressing that the fossil fuel industry [including utilities such as Duke Energy] should apply its massive resources “to drive, not obstruct” the global transition to renewable energy.
He said limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible but will require a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Countries must phase out coal, oil and natural gas to avert climate “catastrophe,” and massively boost investment in renewable energy – which must include using energy far more wisely.
Guterres called for immediate global action toward net-zero emissions, which “must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry.” [emphases in original]
With a governor frequently espousing climate concerns in recent years, North Carolina should be at least on par with red states going renewable. Sadly, Gov. Cooper hasn’t heeded the scientists pressing for true action, particularly their call to stop the expansion of natural gas-fired electricity, and Duke Energy’s greenwashing narrative still dominates our statewide discussion.
It still seems it’s inevitable that executives at Duke Energy – one of the largest US climate polluters – will have to abandon their pro-gas, pro-nukes, stifle-renewables business model that’s harming so many people.
We again urgently call on Governor Roy Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein and other leaders to press for that transition while the window for slowing global warming is still cracked open.
*See Duke Energy draft 2022 carbon plan (Table E-84, p. 86)